Activist & Pioneer Nurse

Year in Review!

2020 was a year of change and adjustment as we entered the first wave of Covid-19. On March 11 the World Health Organization declares Covid-19 a pandemic March 17. A state of Emergency was called in Ontario and our world as we knew it changed.

Prior to these dates many plans had been made for Nursing Week celebrating Nightingale’s Bicentenary. The changes were drastic with lectures, conferences, lunches and galas cancelled and all face to face meetings. Zoom became the new norm.

Frontlines nurses entered into many challenges and restrictive measures. The need and push for personal protective equipment was not received 

well by management. Our site is covering several articles in full or by link on healthy workplaces, appropriate PPE, mental health issues leading to major depressive disorders. We saw the serious results in Long term Care enfolds with increasing deaths. Health care workers often resigned leaving the workplace increasing poorly staffed.

For a number of homes the military were called in to provide basic care. With so many issues and deaths an inquiry was struck into Long Term Care with input from RNAO, ONA, the Health Coalitions and other unions. The interim report was released Oct 23, 2020 with a final report April 30 2021. It is hopeful that the recommendations will be implemented.

The push in the fall was to generate a vaccine to overcome the virus. Canada at this time did not produce the vaccine. Workers slowly started to receive the vaccine in late 2020 from other sources. 

Late in summer saw a reprieve with restrictions lessening. However we saw lockdown enforced in Ontario starting Dec 26 and with the rest of the provinces, and the world, with varying restrictions. That this has continued so long unlike SARS has been a challenge to the resilience of the nursing workforce and tested our beliefs in nursing. Such isolation took its toll. 

What would Nightingale have commented on today as she had in her time placed such an importance on environment and disease prevention?
She emphasized and advocated for appropriate ventilation, cleanliness, light and spacing of patients to assure adequate recovery. 

Please read through the following articles to address many of the issues presented 

Our Nurses Are Not Okay!

By Tegan Slot – Health and Safety Consultant Ottawa Region

In June 2020, a study by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Union on mental health disorder symptoms reported that 36% of nurses screened positive for major depressive disorder and 29% with anxiety disorder and clinical burnout. 

Factors that impact mental wellbeing are change in work hours, reduced access to child care, increased workload, difficulty in concentrating and becoming easily distracted, multiple demand on working parents to cite a few. 

For the entire article click here for January 2021 edition of Hospital News (see page 16)

Canada is Failing our Health Care Workers
by Linda Silas, President of the Canadian Nurses Association

Health Care Workers in Canada represent nearly 1 in 5 cases of covid -19 twice the global average. Going forward all guidance impacting the safety of health care workers must be made on a precautionary basis by workplace regulators health care worker unions and worker safety experts. Those decisions should form the basis of health care worker safety guidance issued by public health agencies. 

Failing by the employers to provide appropriate PPE is a major contributor to the outbreak and the precautionary principle should have been initiated much earlier. 

For the entire article click here for December 2020 edition of Hospital News (see page 4) 

A Prescription for a Healthy Workplace

by Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)

How civility and respect can reduce work related stress 

There are times when workplace stress can get the best of us, especially during trying times like these. With ongoing pandemic and its subsequent changes to our lives, including added social responsibilities it’s important to remind yourself that everyone in the workplace deserves the same thing as you do: civility and respect. 

In a respectful workplace, everyone is courteous, caring and considerate in their interactions with one another, as well 

as with volunteers, patients and the public. Not only does this lead to greater  job satisfaction  and a better attitude, civil and respectful workplace behaviors can also positively impact mental health. 

Your Health Matters Too – It can be normal for some workers to feel job -related stress while some level of stress can be beneficial, like in situations where you need to focus, constant stress for long periods of time, can cause depression, a short temper, job dissatisfaction, and low morale. Thankfully, there are steps that workplaces can take to support mental health of their workers, which in turn, can help support the mission and values of the workplace. By building a civil and respectful work environment, everyone will start to see tangible benefits take place including improved morale, reduction in sick leave and turnover, and improved teamwork.

Make Civility and Respect the Workplace Standard – Supporting workers by building a civil and respectful workplace can-and should-be done. 

The Following are a Few Tips to Get Started 

1. Train and Develop – Provide training resources on civil and respectful workplace behaviors such as listening, giving feedback, conflict resolution, anger management, and dealing with difficult customers. It is also important that staff learn to recognize what constitutes uncivil behavior and how to address it. 

2. Incorporate Respect and Civility in your Communications – Adopt non-discriminatory language and maintain the confidentiality of employees’ personal information in all communications. Ensure that communications are easy to find and accessible to all by prominently displaying on bulletin boards, in employment handbooks, or online.  

3. Give Your Full Attention – Basic respect is the foundation of working relationships. A civil workplace is one where everyone’s input is recognized, valued and where our attention is focused on the conversation at hand. The focus means giving people and meetings your undivided attention. Be sure to turn off your cell phone or any other device that may distract you. If you’re going to be late for a meeting let the organizer know in advance. 

4. Use Respect Language – Please…. Thank you … Excuse me….  I am sorry…. are words you can use regularly to establish civility, express appreciation to co-workers for their help, avoid interrupting others when they are speaking, and apologize  with sincerity if you have mistakenly offended someone. These seemly small gestures all help to contribute to an overall culture of a respectful workplace. 

5. Say Hello – In an uneasy work environment, it is commonplace for co-workers to not even greet each other. The next time you’re passing a colleague in the hall-way or seeing then in the lunch room, acknowledge them by saying” Hello”. Courtesy is infectious and helps build positive morale. 

6. Be Considerate when you Speak – Humor in the workplace can take many forms and not all of them are appropriate nor appreciated by everyone. Before making a joke, pause to consider your audience. Is the joke at someone else’s expense? Might it be embarrassing or demeaning? If the answer is yes to any of these, then don’t share the joke. 

7. Be Inclusive – Be courteous, friendly-these actions foster a positive working culture. Find out how co-workers would like to be addressed. Avoid giving people nicknames or pet names as that can be seen as belittling and patronizing. Look for opportunities to include others that you may not generally socialize with by acknowledging their birthday, inviting them to lunch, or asking for their input. Everyone wants to be recognized and have a sense of belonging. It can be very rewarding to bridge social barriers to discover new associations. 

8. Practice Humility – Give others credit when they do a good job. By being modest and raising others, you can contribute to building a culture of generosity and trust, while allowing others to share in the satisfaction of a job well done. 

9. Be a Role Model – Promote and reinforce respectful behavior leadership. Provide managers and supervisors with appropriate training and support, and ensure that they are available, present, and in contact with workers to be able to recognize and resolve issues.

10. Address Uncivil Behavior – In addition to demonstrating the type of behavior we expect from others, it is equally important for employers to address situations that affect civility. Create and enforce guidelines and policies detailing expectations, and consequences for inappropriate behavior. Allow for constructive problem-solving. Manage conflicts in an effective and timely fashion and ensure follow-up with all parties involved. As you move through your day remember that small, everyday acts of civility, care, and consideration can go a long way to help everyone feel safe, comfortable, and respected at work. 

Who Is Florence Nightingale

  • Activist and pioneer in Nursing
  • Born in 1820 in Florence, Italy
  • Established the first nursing school worldwide in London, England
  • A mentor and role model in Nursing
  • Author,  systems thinker and pioneer public health reformer

Read more…


Our Bookmark

Definitions On Health

Available upon request. We look forward to sharing it with you.

Definitions assist us to reflect and understand our nursing practices and ourselves. Take a look and submit your own definition on Health.  What does it mean to you?

1. World Health Organization (WHO)
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

2. Nightingale
Health is not only to be well, but to be able to use well every power we have.

3. Carolyn
Health is a recognition of health limits and an ability to seek treatment with compliance towards a balance physically and mentally with optimal function. 

Definition On Nursing

1. Virginia Henderson, Nurse Theorist, 1966
The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery or to a peaceful death that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will or knowledge and to do this in such a way as to help him gain independence as rapidly as possible.

This definition has been adopted by the International Council of Nurses and distributed around the world.

Unusual Kindness

The phrase “unusual kindness” is of a religious nature – Act 28.2, and covers Nightingale in reference historically. It makes you think how important it is to be kind to each other and patient as well. With the stresses upon us it is easy to snap and be unruly in how we communicate. Nurses are known for being caring but kind as well – most important at these times.

Did You Know?

Nightingale was well ahead of her time!

She had identified the correlation between the physical hospital environment and health outcomes of patients.

Her strong credentials in the use of statisticians saw her become the first woman inducted into the Royal Statistical Society in 1858 in the UK.

Click here for the Public Health Legacy of Florence Nightingale: A Lesson For Covid-19

In Collaboration with Dr. Lynn McDonald Professor Emerita

Lynn is an author of several books on Nightingale-most recently; Florence Nightingale, Nursing, and Health Care Today and the Collected Works of Nightingale. She is also a climate activist, prison reformer and former Member of Parliament. You can connect with her for more information on Nightingale in Backgrounders at She is cofounder and current chair of The Nightingale Society and has been a great support and inspiration to us throughout the last year. We do connect with her and other nursing colleagues from California and Ohio on a regular basis- sharing ideas on how best to recognize and promote Nightingale.

The Nightingale 2021 Team

Anne Clark RN

Retired Nurse and former ONA Board member

Nightingale Authority

Carolyn Edgar RN

Retired Nurse

Student in labour Studies -McMaster University

Cristina Buco RN

Frontline Nurse at PMH

Return to Work at
local 097

Eleanor Adarna RN

TGH Site Rep

Local 97 Executive Secretary Health and Safety Lead Rep